Potty Training 101
House training a dog of any age can be fast, easy and enjoyable. Whether you
have a young puppy, a middle aged dog from a rescue or even a senior citizen that is just enjoying the comfort of inside life for the first time the rules do not change. The key however is to be consistent, patient and understanding of your dogs needs. Please note- if your dog is urinating more frequently then normal, it is best to have the dog checked by your veterinarian for common illness’s like urinary tract infection, which is very common in adolescent dogs and easy to treat.
First let’s debunk a few common myths and establish some facts-
1. Dogs don’t come wanting to urinate outside! Some dogs are easier to house
train then others but they all start out wanting to pee where they feel safe. So
behind the kitchen table on the carpet can seem like a fine place to go if it is
thundering and lightening! After all, would you really want to go in a storm?
2. Remember the old saying that dogs don’t go where they sleep? That should be
they don’t USUALLY go where they sleep. However if you give them an entire
home to search they will gladly decide the spare bedroom, where they don’t
go often is the perfect place for them!
3. A dog house-trained to one home is not house trained in another home. Dogs
are triggered to both urinated and defecate by the smell of urine and feces so
unless there are other dogs your dog will need to establish their scent on the
property first. Also dogs are creatures of habit so when you remove their usual
spot, they will begin to looking for a new one. This doesn’t always wind up
where we like it!
4. Dogs do not have accidents out of spite, revenge or any other human
emotion. I know, I know…..
5. Dogs will have accidents in their crate if not given the appropriate
opportunities to go. I call this the “if you have to go, you have to go” rule!
6. A puppy that will grow into a medium sized dog, on average, can “hold it” for
the number of months old they are plus one. So a two month old lab puppy
can go on average about three hours. Smaller dogs can go less and bigger
dogs a bit longer. Playing, meal times and sleeping can greatly increase or
decrease this so it is always wise to take your dog out 10-20 minutes after
every play session and meal.
7. When dogs eat it takes approximately 20 minutes to digest and trigger them to
defecate their prior meal. This is why at Tails Up Paws Down, we recommend
all our clients feed two meals a day. When you know when the food goes in
it’s much easier to know when it is going to come out!
8. Do not let an un-house trained dog have free reign of your home. If you
can’t watch them they should be crated or in a small area your 100% sure
they will not have an accident. If your watching TV hook a leash to the couch
so you can see if they show signs of needing to potty (always supervise and
never leash to anything that could fall or furniture that isn’t heavy enough to
support a strong tug). If you need to work, take a shower or anything that
takes away your attention then put them up.
9. Keep a close eye on your dogs behavior. If they are wandering off, sniffing, pacing
or otherwise seem frustrated it is probably time for a potty break.
Your house training plan-
This plan will work with any dog and should pay positive results in a short period.
If your dog is having accidents or urinating and defecating in an excessive
amount please consult your vet immediately.
1. First… Don’t let your dog have accidents. Yeah, sounds simple right? The
point is when your dog has an accident you have to look at it as though what
did you do that lead to the accident? One dog trainer’s saying is “if your dog
has an accident roll up a newspaper and hit yourself with it”.
2. Take the dog on a leash to same place in the yard and don’t move. Only
give the dog the length of the leash to smell. Smelling to a dog is like us
watching the news. The more space you give them the longer they will take.
Plus, remember we want to establish their scent in the yard and get them to go
outside quicker so the less time they have to start the better.
3. Every time they go immediately say “good dog” or if your clicker
training click! (verbiage does not matter just be consistent and use the
same word every time) and immediately put a really yummy treat right in
front of them. This is not the time to break out the dry boring treats folks, this
is your carpet we are talking about!!! Use Bil-Jack, Zukes or other meaty
4. It is imperative to get the treat to the dog immediately. Dogs think in
seconds and the most common issue folks have with house training is they
take the dog to potty and bring them in the house to give them the treat. From
the dogs perspective they got the treat for coming back inside. Normally in this
scenario the dog only has one thing on it’s mind; getting back inside to get the
treat. The reason for this is dogs live in the moment and only understand they
are rewarded for something if it happens immediately following their last
action. Don’t interrupt the dog while doing their business but just as they are
finishing say yes, in a happy but not loud tone and then immediately make the
5. Use the proper tools for any accidents. Do not use normal household
cleaners on any accidents (bleach, carpet cleaners, etc). These are designed
with us two legged folks in mind. Bleach for example will cover the odor from
you or I but any dog, with their incredible sense of smell, will be able to smell
the accident and the bleach! For household accidents of the organic nature
(urine, feces, blood, etc) use an enzyme based cleaner like Natures Miracle!
The primary thing to remember is that with enzyme based cleaners the
enzymes need time to do their job. The enzymes will “eat” the urine and feces
but they need time to do so. So apply it liberally and let it soak in just like the
accident. You don’t have to rub it in, or do anything besides let it sit. Once the
Natures Miracle has had a chance to sit and dry then vacuum it up! When you
vacuum you will vacuum up the enzymes that contain the urine (it is long gone
by now!) If the stain is still visible then repeat!
6. What to do if you see your dog having an accident? First don’t yell at the
dog… This will make them hide to have accidents. Simply say something to
get their attention and immediately take them to the place you want them to
go! Dogs don’t understand corrections, they do understand payment! If they
are continually reinforced for peeing outside then the unpaid peeing inside will
cease to exist!
A bell can be a useful tool for your dog to tell you he wants to go out. Because he
can’t speak to you in your language, he must use a signal to tell you he needs to
go out. You must learn to recognize that signal. Put a bell on the door that leads
to the potty spot. Make sure the bell is hung to the same level as your dogs nose.
The bell rings every time someone goes in or out that door. Remember how fast
a dog learns what a doorbell means? Well, your puppy will learn that the bell
means that the door is opening. Many puppies will go to the bell and ring it
without any special training. However, to speed up the process, take him to the
door and ring the bell. Then quickly open the door and run outside, praising him.